My Ocean Tree

The British Geological Survey Remote Sensing of Geohazards

C. Jordan, S. Loughlin, G. Ager




The British Geological Survey (BGS) conducts an extensive combination of research and applied projects for a wide range of geohazard applications. Many of these make extensive use of Earth Observation (EO), under the remit of the Earth & Planetary Observation & Monitoring Team. A small selection of the BGS contributions to remote sensing of geohazards is described here. The “International Charter; Space and Major Disasters” is an agreement among Space Agencies to support emergency efforts caused by major disasters by supplying EO datasets. Two BGS staff have now been trained as Project Managers for disaster response following geohazards, to ensure fast data, information and services delivery to the appropriate body. Before receiving that training, BGS responded to an activation of the Charter following a volcanic event at the Soufrière Hills Volcano on the island of Montserrat in July 2008. Data were received from suppliers and passed to colleagues at the University of Reading for their use in disaster management on-the-ground in Montserrat. Responsive work was also undertaken by BGS following the Haiti earthquake in January 2010. The 7.0Mw event (and at least 52 aftershocks) affected three million people, and damaged approximately 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings. A Building Damage Assessment Report was compiled using a network of volunteer scientists GEO CAN (Global Earth Observation Catastrophe Assessment Network). Manual image interpretation was used to delineate destroyed and heavily damaged buildings as part of the Post Disaster Needs Assessment and Recovery Framework. BGS donated staff time and expertise to the GEO CAN endeavour. The GEO CAN post earthquake damage assessment clearly illustrated the contribution that a desk based interpretation can provide. The Global Earthquake Model Foundation have further realised the part that EO data can play on the ground and they have awarded a project to a consortium, which includes BGS, to develop Inventory Data Capture Tools. BGS is leading the task to develop an OpenSource digital field mapping system and we expect this will enable imagery to be used by experts in an earthquake-affected area and for data to be collected systematically prior to use in GEM databases. This project is due to start in mid December 2010. Whilst the projects above are mainly responsive, i.e. mapping post event system, BGS is also involved in projects developing long term monitoring systems. The EU FP7 European Volcano Observatory Space Services (EVOSS) project is coordinated by IPGP, France and has 12 partners who are working to develop services within the framework of GMES to detect precursors to eruptions and monitor the products of ongoing volcanic activity. The services will include near-real-time atmospheric and thermal products, along with delayed-time deformation maps.

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